PRESS RELEASE- A Crusade for Creativity- BOL KE LAB AAZAD HAI TERE @26Jan #Mumbai #Foe #Republicday


freedom_of_speech
PRESS RELEASE

Bol ke lab azaad hain tere…….

History has been witness to the systematic deprivation of the oppressed. Right from their attempts to acquire knowledge and make it a vehicle of their liberation, to the production and expression of critical thought and action, the atrocities against the edict of equality enshrined in the constitution have been manifold. Even though the titles and identities of oppressors seem to have changed, the nature of oppression remains identifiably similar; the practice of slavery keeps resurfacing in one form or the other.

Yet, the history of the struggles of the subalterns against such tyranny is just as rich and rousing. We seek to stand up to the tall legacy of these struggles and continue the fight against the dilution of our Constitutional Rights and Freedoms. We denounce the Corporate Media that is all money and no soul, no courage, no character. The media not only manufactures consent but systematically marginalizes subaltern movements by consistently turning a blind eye towards them and privileging middle and upper class rage and issues above all else.

We condemn the State agencies and fascist forces that seek to gag the crusaders of truth and justice. The clamp down on people’s movements against nuclear plants in Koodankulam and Jaitapur, frequent Zillabandi, police firing and lathicharge incidents in response to people’s protests, the landgrab of mining and industrial capitalists in adivasi areas, the moral policing and vandalism of despotical forces, as well as the arrests of cultural revolutionaries like Sudhir Dhawale and members of Kabir Kala Manch who sought to write and sing about the gaffes, among others, must stop.  These are blatant violations of our fundamental Right to Freedom of Expression orchestrated by the State and powerful non-State actors.

To register our protest, we have organised a Cultural Protest Programme in opposition to the atrocities against the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression in our country.

Event:  Srujanacha Algaar- A Crusade for Creativity

Time & Date: 5:00 – 9:00 pm, Saturday, 26 January 2013
Venue: Dr. Ambedkar Bhavan, Gokulpasta lane, behind Chitra Cinema, Dadar (W), Mumbai.
Programme: Revolutionary Cultural Gala to be presented by a new vibrant team of performers

Music (Hindustani Classical, Ghazals, Vidrohi Shahiri, Parivartanachya Ovya, Global Gondhal, Laavani, Rap, Rock) Poetry recitation, Dance performances,  Song of Kabir by Niraj Arya,  Rap Performances – MC Manmeet Kaur and Ashwini Mishra of Alistrap

Short Plays to be presented entirely by new and young performers and cultural activists.

An invitation extended by Sambhaji Bhagat, Ramu Ramanathan, Anand Patwardhan, Kamayani Bali Mahabal and other supporters of the Freedom of Speech and Expression

 

THE FACEBOOK EVENT HERE-https://www.facebook.com/events/401313879956734/

Media Contact:

Anisha George                                           Sambhaji Bhagat

Tel: 9820171019                                       Tel: 9323801194

Email: anishage@gmail.com

 

Activists protest imprisonment of Indian journalist


By Sumit Galhotra/CPJ Steiger Fellow
Supporters of Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt gathered in New York’s Union Square on October 4. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)

A couple dozen activists gathered this past week in New York City’s Union Square to protest the imprisonment of freelance journalist Lingaram Kodopi and his aunt Soni Sori, who were arrested one year ago in India.

According to local human rights activists and journalists, authorities wanted to prevent Kodopi from publicizing the role of police in violence in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, where security forces and Maoists are at war. In April 2011, the 26-year-old journalist documented the destruction of houses during an anti-Maoist police operation in three Dantewada district villages and “recorded on video precise narrations of police atrocities,” Tehelka reported. Kodopi was charged with anti-state activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act and sections 121, 124A and 120B of the Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy, sedition, and waging war against the state.

The New York protest was organized by the Association for India’s Development and the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, and endorsed by groups like Amnesty International USA. Demonstrators gathered near a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

Prachi Patankar, a member of the South Asia Solidarity Initiative, told CPJ, “While based here we can internationalize the issue. Journalists–not just in India–but elsewhere face similar challenges from their governments.”  The event has sparked a sense of curiosity, she said.

Activists noted that Kodopi and his aunt have been tortured in prison.  According to Telheka, Kodopi was beaten and held in a police toilet for 40 days. According to Human Rights Watch, Sori has been sexually assaulted and beaten. The government has failed to take action against those responsible for their torture, and the two remain in custody awaiting trial.

“It’s a very dangerous climate,” prominent Indian activist Himanshu Kumar told CPJ at the protest. “Journalists can’t report the truth. And if they dare to report on the reality, the government accuses them of being a Maoist and gives them a hard time, and even imprisons them.” Only the journalists who report the government version can survive, Kumar said.

This is certainly not the first time that authorities in India have targeted the press for shedding light on human rights abuses. In January 2011, police arrested journalist Sudhir Dhawale, who documented human rights violations for the Marathi-language monthly Vidrohi. Like Kodopi, he was charged with sedition and waging war against the state and was also charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Dhawale’s supporters say he was detained because he was a critic of a state-supported, anti-Maoist militia active in Chhattisgarh state, a center of the violence between Maoists and the state. Dhawale remains imprisoned, according to media reports.

INVITATION- Seema Azad and Vishwavijay – speak in JNU on 3rd September


The singer was singing
And they question him
Why do you sing?
He answers them
as they seize him
Because I sing
And they have searched him:
In his breast only his heart
In his heart only his people
In his voice only his sorrow
In his sorrow only his prison
And they have searched his prison
To find only themselves in chains
Mahmoud Darwish

Friends,
As it is well known Seema Azad and Vishwavijay, two civil rights activists,

editor of a well known magazines and literary persons were arrested in
2010, were arrested from Khuldabad, Allahabad. Their ‘crime’ was that
they possessed literature of Bhagat Singh. The state saw them as ‘potential
terrorists’ as threat to the country. They were sentenced for life on charges
of criminal conspiracy, waging war and under several provisions of the
draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
As the Organising Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in
Uttar Pradesh and editor of the  magazine Dastak Seema had
consistently reported and gave  voice to the growing dissent of the
people against the anti-people  policies of the government in the
form of Ganga Expressway which  brought forth the nexus of the
politicians, bureaucrats and the  land mafia. As we may recall the
Ganga Expressway can result in  the displacement of thousands of
peasantry. It was her initiative to  expose the increasing arbitrary
arrests, torture and incarceration  of Muslim youth in Azamgarh.

The magazine Dastak became a vehicle for expressing the voice of the
voiceless. And this is precisely what the government would want us to
believe as ‘waging war against the state’! And this is why the police officer
would find fault with both of them, for ‘waging war’ with the state, for
reading Bhagat Singh at a time when the state is flaunting a sham ‘growth
rate’, but the material condition of the people are deteriorating every day!
The verdict against Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay w against the grain of
fundamental rights of the people of the subcontinent as it goes a long way
in criminally profiling any political dissent or opinion or even spreading
that as ‘waging war’ against the state. The state would tell us how we
should think and express ourselves. We can be only part of the state in
‘managing’ the perception of the people.

Seema and Vishwavijay were finally granted bail by the Allahabad High
Court this August. Huge public pressure that was mounted on the court by
consistent campaign by civil rights and democratic activists finally forced
the court to grant them bail. Although this is indeed a huge victory for the
democratic movement, it is also a grim reminder that even now thousands
of activists including cultural activists are still being incarcerated after
being framed as ‘terrorists’ or ‘extremists’ just because they dare to raise
their voices against exploitation and oppression of the people. Sudhir
Dhawale, Jeetan Marandi, Deepak Dengle or Utpal Bashke are a few
among the thousands who are languishing in various jails of the country,
charged with the ‘crime’ of being fearless cultural and literary activists who
stood by people’s resistance for land, livelihood and dignity. The fight to
release all these political prisoners must go on. As a part of that effort, we
invite you to this convention, where along with Seema and Vishwavijay
many other well known poets and writers will raise their voice against the
war that has been declared on our
fundamental rights by the Indian state.

उठाने ही होंगे  अभिव्यभि केख़तरे दमन के भख़लाफ़ प्रभतरोध की सस्ं कृभत

Uthane hi honge abhivyakti ke khatre: daman ke khilaf pratirodh ki sanskriti”

Speakers:
Seema Azad
Vishwavijay
Anjani
Manager pandey
Pankaj Bisht
Mangalesh Dabral
Madan Kas

Ranjit Verma
Neelabh Ashq
Anuj Lugun
Kapilesh Bhoj
Prashant Rahi
Vidrohi

3rd of September in SSS Auditorium JNU at 2pm.

A Stick Called 124(A) The State finds a handy tool in a colonial law to quell dissent


Outlokk-National Magazine | Jul 02, 2012

 


Sentenced Seema and her husband Vijay being taken to jail
sedition law: misuse

Panini Anand, Debarshi Dasgupta

Wrong Arm Of The Law
Why ‘sedition’ rings hollow in India 2012

The law Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code, 1870; non-bailable offence

The definition Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India

The accusers Other than the State, even individuals are free to file charges

The punishment Imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

The misuse While the Supreme Court has specifically laid down that the provisions of section 124(A) are only made out where there is a tendency to public disorder by use of violence or incitement to violence, the clause has been grossly misused. While convictions are rare, the long and tortuous legal process is seen as a deterrent to others.

The victims The law is being used to punish fierce critics of the government, including political
dissenters, human rights activists and journalists

Global status

UK abolished sedition laws in 2010
New Zealand repealed it in 2008

Prakash Ram, a farmer from a village near Haldwani in Uttarakhand, had never heard of Mao Tse Tung. Ironically enough, his first lesson on Chairman Mao and his ideology came not from some gun-toting guerrilla but the Uttarakhand police. Accusing him of being a Maoist, they arrested him oncharges of sedition on August 30, 2004. It has taken eight years for the 28-year-old to be finally cleared of the taint, by the Rudrapur sessions court this month. “I spent two of the best years of my life behind bars (he was granted bail in 2006) and six more years in my legal battle for justice,” he says. “I may be free now but this arrest has spoilt my reputation and will make it difficult for me to get work. Who will pay for this? Will someone be held responsible?”

The dark days of Emergency, rung in 37 years ago this week, may have become a distant memory for some, but for many others, an Emergency-like situation is a recurring reality. Just as in 1975 and the year after, when the State suppressed dissent and abolished civil rights, the democratic republic of India continues to target disaffected voices and accuse of sedition anyone it sees as a threat.

Lost years Prakash Ram, a farmer from Haldwani, accused of being a Maoist. (Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari)

Rajinder Sachar, a retired chief justice of the Delhi High Court, thinks the situation today is actually worse. “In 1975,” he says, “the Emergency was more of a political game played by one political party but now everyone is restricted from speaking. One law after the other is passed, stopping one from speaking openly. A situation is being created where anybody can be declared anti-national. We are actually going through an undeclared Emergency.”

One of the latest victims of Section 124(A), a law that deals with sedition and which is a handy tool for the government to target trenchant critics, is Seema Azad and her husband Vishwa Vijay. A journalist couple from Allahabad, they had written fearlessly about corruption and illegal mining in Uttar Pradesh. Charged with sedition, the two were sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 70,000 by a sessions court in Allahabad on June 8.

Seema and Vijay were arrested in February 2010 at the Allahabad railway station on their return from New Delhi. They were accused of being members of the banned CPI (Maoist) group simply because the police deemed the literature recovered from them to be “anti-national”. Their advocate Ravi Kiran Jain argues that this verdict ignores the observations the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court made in 2011 while hearing the bail plea of Dr Binayak Sen, who too was charged with sedition. “If someone has the autobiography of Gandhi at his home, will he be called a Gandhian,” the apex court had famously asked the prosecution lawyer. “Even in this case,” says Jain, “Seema and her husband were simply in possession of some literature on Maoism. This does not make them Maoists.” The advocate now plans to file an appeal on behalf of the duo in the Allahabad High Court.

 

Mission aborted Salem’s Piyush Sethia

Other than Dr Sen and the Allahabad couple, there were at least six other high-profile cases involving sedition in 2010. They include Arundhati Roy, who was booked under Section 124(A) for making a speech supporting azadi in Kashmir, and Salem-based environmental activist Piyush Sethia, who was accused of sedition for disrupting a Republic Day ceremony in Salem in 2010 by attempting to distribute a controversial anti-mining leaflet. In fact, things took on a farcical turn when Srinagar-based lecturer Noor Mohammed Bhatt was slapped with the sedition charge in December the same year for including a question in an English paper asking if stone-pelters were the real heroes and asking students to translate from Urdu to English a passage that read, “Kashmiri blood is being spilled like water, Kashmiri children are being killed by police and Kashmiri women are being showered with bullets.”

There is no official record of the total number of cases involving sedition, but the sudden spurt in such cases has generated much concern. Civil rights groups have launched a nationwide campaign to have the law repealed. Says veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who was in jail during the Emergency, “The sedition law is a weapon in the hand of the State which evokes doubts, suspicion and hatred in the mind of the people against whom the charges are made. Such an undemocratic and anti-people law must be repealed immediately. In fact, it should have been done many years back.” Most of these cases (see Memories of Another Day) have targeted people who have fearlessly spoken up for the rights of the marginalised, especially the Dalits and tribals.

It was for this reason that Sudhir Dhawale, a Dalit rights activist from Mumbai, was picked up by the Maharashtra police from Wardha in January last year for being a “Naxal supporter”. Still lodged in a Nagpur jail, many speculate the real reason he was picked up was his writings and activities that helped mobilise Dalits for their rights. Like him, Gananath Patra, the 73-year-old convenor of Chasi Muliya Adivasi Sangh in Narayanpatna in Orissa, too was charged with sedition and put behind bars in January 2010. He was released on bail earlier this month due to poor health but on the condition that he must not engage in any activism. He had earlier helped tribals in and around Narayanpatna take back around 10,000 acres of land that had been forcefully acquired from them.

Of course, it is activism in areas under the grip of left-wing extremism that the government is extremely sensitive about. Sethia, the Salem-based activist, found himself in the crosshairs precisely for this. Carrying pamphlets criticising Operation Green Hunt, he was set to spread his message cycling all the way to Sivaganga, the constituency Union home minister P. Chidambaram represents. However, the Tamil Nadu police arrested him in Salem itself, even before he could distribute the pamphlets at the R-Day ceremony there. Out on bail since February 2010, the sedition charges still hold. The real cause for his arrest though, Sethia believes, is his fight against illegal mining in the region. He was the main litigant in a case in the Madras High Court that resulted in the closure of a local mining unit that belonged to Vedanta. Funnily enough, there has not been a single hearing in Sethia’s case so far. “Either they should drop the charges, or they should go ahead with the case and finish it off. It is a sort of leash on my activities,” says Sethia, whose questioning gaze encompasses areas like the Forests Rights Act and water pollution and privatisation.

The nuclear flashpoint Koodankulam agitators are viewed with suspicion

Nuclear energy is another area that the government, including at the state level, has begun to get touchy about. The slightest whiff of opposition is promptly dismissed as anti-national. Little wonder then that as many as 3,500 protesters were charged with sedition in the aftermath of the Koodankulam protests in Tamil Nadu, where locals were agitating against the construction of a nuclear power plant. Says V. Suresh, an advocate at the Madras High Court and someone who has spent time with the locals, “While laws are meant to protect the people, in this case, the sedition law has been clearly misused by the government to further its interests.”

Anand Swaroop Verma, Delhi-based editor of monthly journal Samkaleen Teesri Duniya, expresses concern at a different level. This crackdown by the State, he says, has been met with only rare instances of media criticism and scrutiny. He attributes this to a media cooption strategy which ensures reporting of sedition cases is largely favourable towards the government. “Six years back, the PM, in a conference on internal security with CMs, had urged them to coopt the media and get them to play a more positive role in the fight against terrorism,” he adds. The media, of course, often colludes wilfully.

Even when filed on flimsy grounds, the legal hassles and harassment the sedition charge involves serve as a deterrent to others, forced as they are to think twice before taking on the might of the State. Ask E. Rati Rao, vice president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties in Karnataka. While she was booked under sedition for asking uncomfortable questions on encounter deaths in the Malanadu area in October 2007, the case against her was dismissed in September 2010 after the police failed to file a chargesheet. “All they wanted to do was just terrorise me, and by doing so, terrorise others,” she says. “This sedition law and democracy do not go together. It is leading the State towards fascism.”

For a Congress-led government that draws its inspiration and legacy from Jawaharlal Nehru, it would do well to act on what the country’s first prime minister had to say on the sedition clause in a parliamentary debate in 1951 on the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Now so far I am concerned that particular section (124-A) is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should have no place both for practical and historical reasons…the sooner we get rid of it the better.”

***

Memories Of Another Day

How a repressive 19th-century law is being indiscriminately unleashed on citizens fighting for the rights of their fellow citizens

  • Jogendra Chandra Bose The first case, in 1891, when the editor of Bangobasi was charged for criticising the British govt’s move to raise the age on consensual sex from 10 to 12, and for commenting on the negative economic impact of British colonialism
    Mahatma Gandhi Charged, along with Shankerlal Banker, the proprietor of Young India, for three articles in the weekly. Convicted in 1922.
    Balgangadhar Tilak The British govt alleges his speeches instigated the murder of two British officers. Convicted in 1897, 1905, 1916.
    Manoj Shinde Editor, Surat Saamna, charged in Aug ’06 for using “abusive words” against Narendra Modi in an editorial alleging administrative failure in tackling the Surat flood situation
    Kahturam Sunani Journalist, OTV, Charged in May 2007 in Sinapali, Orissa, for filing a report that Pahariya tribals were consuming ‘soft’ dolomite stones in Nuapada district due to acute hunger.
    Binayak Sen Doctor & Human Rights Activist. Charged in May 2007 in Raipur for allegedly helping courier messages to Maoist leaders. Sen had criticised the Chhattisgarh govt’s support to the vigilante group Salwa Judum.
    E. Rati Rao Resident Editor, Varthapatra, charged in Oct 2007 2010 in Mysore, Karnataka, for an article alleging encounter deaths in Karnataka.
    Prashant Rahi, Journalist, charged in Dec 2007 for allegedly possessing Naxal literature
    Bharat Desai Resident Editor, Times of India, Ahmedabad Gautam Mehta Photographer, Gujarat Samachar Charged in Jun 2008 for articles and photographs alleging links between the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner and the underworld
    Kirori Singh Bainsla Gujjar community leader Charged in Jun 2008 in Bayana, Rajasthan, for leading an agitation demanding ST status for Gujjars
    Lenin Kumar Editor, Nishan, Charged in Dec 2008 in Bhubaneshwar for publishing a booklet on the Kandhamal riots entitled ‘Dharmanare Kandhamalre Raktonadhi’ (Kandhamal’s rivers of blood)
    Laxman Choudhury Journalist, Sambadh, Charged in Sep 2009 in Gajapati district, Orissa, for allegedly possessing Maoist literature. Choudhury had been writing about the involvement of local police in illegal drug trafficking.
    V. Gopalaswamy (Vaiko) Politician, MDMK, Charged in Dec 2009 in Chennai for allegedly
    making remarks against India’s sovereignty at a book launch function
    Piyush Sethia Environmentalist and Organic Farmer, charged in Jan 2010 in Salem, Tamil Nadu, for trying to distribute pamphlets during protest against Chhattisgarh govt’s support to Salwa Judum
    Niranjan Mahapatra, Avinash Kulkarni, Bharat Pawar, others Trade union leaders and social activists Gujarat police allege links with CPI (Maoist).
    Arundhati Roy, S.A.R. Geelani, Varavara Rao, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, others Private complaint in Nov 2010 in Delhi alleging their speeches on Kashmir in a seminar are anti-India
    Noor Mohammed Bhatt Lecturer, Gandhi Memorial College, Srinagar, in Dec 2010 for
    setting a question paper for English literature students on whether ‘stone pelters were the real heroes’.
    Sudhir Dhawale Dalit rights activist and freelance journalist, Wardha. Maharashtra police allege links with CPI (Maoist) in 2011.

Source: Sedition Laws and the Death of Free Speech in India

IMMEDIATE RELREASE-June 26th- Emergency Day- hunger strike in all Prisons in INDIA !!


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

Statement in Solidarity with Proposed Day Long Hunger Strike on Emergency Day on 26 June 2012 in All Prisons

Against the Sentencing of Seema & Vishwa Vijay! Against the Denial of Our Fundamental Freedoms!

Let us Remember the Dreadful Anti-People Emergency to Continue our Fight Against the Undeclared Emergency on the Freedom Loving People of the Subcontinent!

All Political Prisoners are Targets of an Undeclared Emergency! We demand Their Unconditional Release!

All Draconian Laws Including the UAPA and AFSPA and the Anti-Sedition Laws are Clear Instruments Towards Declaring an Undeclared Emergency! We Demand that Such Anti-People Laws be Immediately Revoked!

As this is being written one cannot deny the possibility of a Muslim youth being picked up as suspected ‘terrorist’ out to destabilise the Indian state; or an Adivasi or a Dalit who is left with little option but to fight against the criminal denial of his/her life and livelihood being picked up as a ‘terrorist’, ‘extremist’ waging war against the state. Anyone who writes, speaks, mobilises people against such growing fascist, anti-people tendencies of the Indian state are also becoming targets of the same policy—the case of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay and a cultural organisation like Kabir Kala Manch being the latest while there are others such as Sudhir Dhawale, Utpal and Jeetan Marandi being incarcerated for their undying love for the well being of the people especially the most oppressed, the Dalits and Adivasis. In Jammu & Kashmir while there are undeclared centres of torture and detention at every nook and cranny, the Kashmiri Muslim prisoners kept in jails in Jammu are meted the worst kind of treatment—in the form of torture, denial of facilities as per the jail manual etc. While the arrests under Public Safety Act are increasing day by day with thousands behind bars the state has also started enforcing UAPA along with the already imposed Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Every state of India is teethed with separate preventive detention laws as well as other draconian instruments apart from the centralised UAPA. Prisoners are flooding the already crowded jails which has least turned out to be centres of reform but breeding grounds for criminalisation and communalisation. Instances of entire villages being put behind bars—for their alleged support to the Maoists—repeatedly even after they are acquitted by the court while custodial deaths/killings due to inhuman torture or connivance of the authorities with communal, criminal elements in the prison is strikingly emerging as a pattern. Needless to say there is an undeclared emergency in the Indian subcontinent.

The role of the media in managing, making perceptions about this undeclared emergency as a necessary evil is increasingly creating a sense of fatalism among the people. Increasingly it is being told to the people that any form of political dissent is against the interests of the state; of growth; of development. So anyone who protests against the anti-people policies of growth, development becomes a ‘terrorist’, ‘waging war’ against the state. The rest of the act of profiling these people as ‘criminals’, ‘anti-nationals’ is done by a large section of the jingoist media hand-in-glove with the state in its so-called ‘war against terror’ as well as the predatory policies of loot and plunder of the Indian state. Today what denote corporate/moribund capital interest have also become the interests of the big media houses. And there is a convergence of interests between moribund capital and a national security state that India is fast emerging. The need of an undeclared emergency is more than justified in such a scenario.

In this context the memories of 26th of June 1976 remain a dreadful day for the freedom loving people of the Indian subcontinent as it happens to be the day of proclamation of the notorious Emergency by the then Indira Gandhi autocratic regime. On this dark day of 1976, the democracy – loving people in their hundreds were arbitrarily jailed and virtually an awful war was declared on the voice of decent and the voice of the voiceless. And today the memory of 26th of June and the lived reality for vast sections of the masses of the people remains the same. But it should be recalled that ultimately, the mighty voice of freedom – loving people prevailed as they fought back.

In solidarity with the call given by the political prisoners we at the CRPP is proposing to observe this day, i.e., 26th June, as the day of raising voice in defense of the rights and freedom of prisoners in general and those of Political prisoners in particular. We stand in solidarity with the call for observing day long hunger strike given by all the political prisoners and other prisoners throughout the Indian subcontinent, for the realization of the following demands.

IMMEDIATE DEMANDS

1. Stop the fascist policy of slapping false cases at the jail gate itself on any Political Prisoner, who has been released through due legal process after prolonged imprisonment.

2. If one is imprisoned in one are more cases, he/she should be kept informed about the rest of the cases if any pending against him or her and all cases should be duly processed and completed within reasonable time period as per the right of Speedy trial.

3. Hygienic food and water supply to the prisoner should be guaranteed.

4. Regular Interviews for the prisoners with their kith and kins and well wishers should be guaranteed.

5. Books, Magazines and political literature should be supplied to the prisoners who are in need of them.

6. Prisoners should duly be produced before the respective courts.

7. Any prisoner who completes 10 years of imprisonment (7 years actual sentence + three years remission) should forthwith be released irrespective of the sections stipulated in the case.

8. Lifers in the Hyderabad Central such as PBV Ganesh and Abdul Qadheer should immediately be released from their prolonged imprisonment of more than 20 years.

OTHER DEMANDS

Release All Political Prisoners Unconditionally!

Repeal All Draconian Laws Including UAPA and AFSPA!

Remove All forces from the Adivasi areas in Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Jangal Mahal under the name Operation Green Hunt, Operation Hukka, Operation Vijay!

Remove Armed Forces from Kashmir and North-East!

In Solidarity,

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SAR Geelani                       Amit Bhattacharyya                          Rona Wilson

Working President              Secretary General                               Secretary, Public Relations

‘Free political prisoners’


Arun Fererreira talk about Sudhir Dhawale

In his first public appearance after getting bail, Arun Ferreira, alleged Naxalite, spoke about the plight of political prisoners in India, at an event held by the Committee For Release of Political Prisoners in Mumbai yesterday.

Amidst a jam-packed hall swarming with journalists and activists, Mumbai-based Arun Ferreira, alleged Naxalite, made his first public appearance after he was released on bail from Nagpur jail recently. Ferreira, after returning to Mumbai, had refused to speak to the media. This much-awaited press conference came almost a week after his release. The event was organised by the Committee For Release of Political Prisoners at the Press Club in South Mumbai, yesterday. While shutterbugs clicked away, Ferreira took his position on the dais along with other members of the committee. Dressed in a blue jeans and a blue shirt, a small card dangling from his shirt pocket read ”FREE SUDHIR DHAWALE. The purpose of the event was to inform the media about the plight of political prisoners and eventually call for their release. “I have come here to highlight the plight of political prisoners in our country. Who are these political prisoners? Sudhir Dhawale is one of them. He was arrested in Gondia because the police claimed that he supports Naxalism. The evidence against him was a book, which he had written some six years ago. This book was used as evidence against him. Is this democracy?” asked Ferreira.

He further added. “Since 2011, none of us have been produced before the Sessions court in Gadchiroli. This is unacceptable.” Talking of another incident, Ferreira said, “In Nagpur, you have privatised bus service. The employees from the public transport department demanded that they wanted permanent jobs. They started protesting for the same. Without giving any explanation, the government jailed them for 15 days. Jailed for what? Jailed for demanding their rights. Can you call these people criminals?” Ferreira, who completed his master’s thesis on ‘political prisoners in India’, pledged to fight for their cause till the end. He said, “I also wanted to address the issue, where people are being re-arrested, time and again. After acquittal, the police slap some more charges against them. Then you are again arrested, and this is an endless cycle. It goes on and on. In 2007 when I was arrested there was no chargesheet or FIR against me. I was in jail and suddenly my name started cropping up in a few cases, where the police stated that I was absconding. Finally when I was acquitted, the police slapped two more cases against me and I was re-arrested. Data obtained from the police department might state that the number of so-called Naxals arrested has increased over a period of time, but most of the arrests being made are not new. A large number of people have been re-arrested again and again. In fact the former Principle district judge of Gadchiroli SS Ahmed had commented on this modus operandi of the police and the way they deal with political prisoners.”

 Torture
P A Sebastian, President of the Committee For Release of Political Prisoners, said, “Many like Arun, who are languishing in jails, are not criminals, but political prisoners. Their views and the states’ views are not similar and this is the reason they are confined in jails and tortured for years together.” Out on bail after four years and eight months, Ferreira has filed a criminal writ petition against the state and others before the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, demanding compensation of Rs 25 lakh. Ferreira had been acquitted in 11 different cases and one case is still pending before the court. When asked if he sympathised with the Naxals , Ferreira refused to elaborate. Instead, Maharukh Adenwalla, spokeswoman , Committee For Release of Political Prisoners, answered, “If somebody’s opinion or views happens to be different from the state’s he/she is made out to be a Naxal. This is in order to fit into their scheme if things.” Ferreira later explained, “Whenever the state sees red, it retaliates. Any ideology that is different than the state’s ideology is perceived as a threat. Nowadays you see any sort of movement that questions the policy of the state has been suppressed.” When a member of the audience asked, if he was in favour of violence, Ferreira replied, “There are movements, which were meant to be non violent. Due to circumstances, violence creeps in. In such a scenario, it is not right for one to back out from the movement. At least, I wouldn’t do that.” Ferreira admits that life in prison has taken a toll on his health. “The police has mastered a technique where a person will be tortured, but there will be no visible marks on his body. I too faced that. A doctor is supposed to check our heath after every 14 hours. The doctor will ask us if there is pain in any part of our body, but he/she will not take note of what we say. One of my co-accused was tortured. Police put petrol in his rectum, but when the doctor gave his report, he said that the person had piles.” He added that the prison manual too needs to be changed. “The prison manual is archaic and there are no rules or regulations in a jail. Everything is decided by the jailor. From how much food you eat to how many letters you can write or receive. If you have enough money you will have a better place to sleep, if you don’t then you are miserable. Even in jails, money is everything. Caste, creed and everything else is very much prevalent in jails too. It is not an equaliser.”

Statement
When asked about his alleged statement about Maoists and Shiv Sena, Ferreira clarified, “There were reports that during narco analysis, I had said that many political parties, including Shiv Sena and its chief Bal Thackeray, have been funding Maoist activities in Mumbai. But this is false. One Dr Malini, who was in charge of the narco analysis, which was conducted in Bangalore, asked me a lot of questions. She asked me for which organizations I had worked, to which I told her about various activist groups I have been associated with. I also told her that various political parties like the Congress and the Shiv Sena have youth wings. The doctor did not know anything about the Shiv Sena. Hence, I had to explain to her that the Shiv Sena is a party and Bal Thackarey is its chief. This was then edited and put together and reports claimed that I had made that statement.”

While Ferreira spoke on various issues, he refused to answer any question related to his family. At the end of the event, when somebody asked him how he survived all these years, Ferreira tersely replied, “I too am surprised, how I survived all these years.”

Who is Sudhir Dhawale?
A resident of Byculla, Sudhir Dhawale, an activist was arrested from Wardha railway station by a team of Gondia police and a team from the Nagpur division of ATS, while trying to board a train to Mumbai. He was taken to Gondia and produced before a local court which awarded police his custody until January 12, 2011. He was also booked for waging war against the state and charged with sedition

Midday- Sudheshna Chowdhury

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